EUCRATIDES, name of two Greco-Bactrian kings.

1. Eucratides I (r. 170-145 B.C.E.), one of the last and most powerful of the Greco-Bactrian kings. After taking Bactria (q.v.) from the Euthydemid Demetrius II (q.v.), he subjugated the Indo-Greek kingdoms south of the Hindu Kush and seized northwest India as far as the Jhelum from his rival, Menander (q.v.). Upon his return from one of his Indian campaigns, Eucratides was ignominiously assassinated by his own son (Heliocles I?). After his death, the Greco-Bactrian empire began to collapse. Already robbed of its western marches by Mithridates I of Parthia, Bactria lost its northern territories and its eastern frontier to nomad invaders who eventually eliminated Greek power from Central Asia and India.

The grandeur of Eucratides’ reign and the power of his state is shown by the abundance of his coinage from a great number of mints, by its presence in an area stretching to the Middle East and the Black Sea, by his minting of the largest gold coin of ancient times (the 20 stater coin in the Cabinet des Médailles in Paris), and by his invention of new monetary types (the triumphant Dioskuoroi caracoling on horseback, their caps studded with stars). He founded the city of Eucratideia in Bactria (of uncertain location) and probably ordered the last phase of embellishment at the palace of Āy Ḵānom (q.v.), on the banks of the Āmū Daryā (q.v.; Oxus). Items of Indian origin discovered in the treasury of this palace bear witness to his Indian campaigns. Until the beginning of the Christian era, imitations of his coinage were produced north of Āmū Daryā by the nomad princes who succeeded the Greeks (Zeĭmal’, pp. 93-109).

2. Eucratides II, another Greco-Bactrian king, (r. 145-140 B.C.E.) is known only through his coinage.


Bibliography (for cited works not given in detail, see “Short References”):

P. Bernard, Fouilles d’Aï Khanoum IV. Les monnaies hors trésors. Questions d’histoire gréco-bactrienne, Paris, 1985, pp. 67-70, 97-113.

O. Bopearachchi, Monnaies gréco-bactriennes et indo-grecques: Catalogue raisonné du Cabinet des Médailles, Paris, 1991, pp. 66-73, 85-86 (Eucratides I), pp. 72-73 (Eucratides II).

Justin, 41.6. I. T. Kruglikova, Dil’berdžin. raskopki 1970-1972 gg. (Delbarjīn. Excavations 1970-72) I, Moscow, 1974, pp. 22-27.

Idem, Drevnyaya Baktriya: Materialy sovetsko-afganskoĭ ekspeditsiĭ 1969-1979 gg. (Ancient Bactria: Results of the Afghan-Soviet expedition 1969-79), Moscow, 1976, pp. 88-93, 111-13 (V. P. Buryĭ on the technique of painting).

Idem, Khram Dioskurov: Materialy sovetsko-afganskoĭ ekspeditsiĭ (The temple of Dioscuri: Results of the Afghan-Soviet expedition), Moscow, 1986, pp. 6-34, 104-6 (review by P. Bernard in Abstracta Iranica 10, 1987, no. 189).

A. K. Narain, The Indo-Greeks, Oxford, 1957, pp. 53-58, 64, 69-73.

Ptolemy, VI, 11.8. C. Rapin, Fouilles d’Aï Khanoum VIII: La trésorerie du Palais hellénistique d’Aï Khanoum. L’apogée et la chute du royaume grec de Bactriane, Paris, 1992 (index, s.v.).

N. Smirnova, “Coins of Eucratides in Museum Collections,” East and West 42/1, 1992, pp. 85-102.

B. Ya. Staviskiĭ, La Bactriane sous les Kushans: Problèmes d’histoire et de culture, rev. ed., tr. P. Bernard et al., Paris, 1986, pp. 134-36. Strabo, XI, 9.2, 11.2.

W. W. Tarn, The Greeks in Bactria and India, 2nd ed., Cambridge, 1952, pp. 183-224 (out of date).

E. V. Zeĭmal’, Drevnie monety Tadžikistana (Ancient coins of Tajikistan), Dushanbe, 1983.

(Paul Bernard)

Originally Published: December 15, 1998

Last Updated: January 20, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. IX, Fasc. 1, pp. 63-64